Netflix Is Trialling A New Service Called 'Netflix Ultra'

Image: Netflix

Since it launched in Australia, Netflix has been offering a three tier service - basically taking the trusted "good, better, best" product strategy. But a new pricing tier, called 'Ultra' has now been spotted in the wild. Here's what existing customers need to know.

Netflix Ultra has started appearing in some parts of the world with the company saying it's "testing slightly different price points and features to better understand how consumers value Netflix". So what does the Ultra tier get you, what do the others lose and is this good news or bad?

Netflix currently offers three pricing tiers in Australia; $9.99, $13.99 and $17.99 per month. The difference between the two least expensive services is the availability of HD and streaming to two devices rather than just one. Premium subscribers get access to Ultra HD and four simultaneous screens.

Image: Netflix

The new Ultra plan, which was captured by Italian blog Tutto Android reveals the new Ultra tier, which costs an extra €2 but adds HDR as a premium feature.

Image: Tutto Android

Everything You Need To Know About HDR

If you followed the news out of CES closely this year, you probably heard the word HDR tossed around a lot. In 2017 we'll see TVs for under $700 with the feature, and fancy monitors for over $1300. But what does HDR even mean?

Read more

Netflix has been adding HDR content to its library for some time. A number of its original productions are available in HDR but the content range seems quite limited and it's hard to tell what content comes in the emerging higher-quality format. With that said, it's likely to become a more prominent format with the latest Apple TV and Google Chromecast supporting it, as well as most new TVs.

The bad news is that this new pricing tier will have some ripple effects on the existing structure.

The Standard tier, with two simultaneous viewers, drops back to just one viewer while Premium drops from four to two viewers. Access to HDR and Ultra HD content, which are currently bundled up with the rest of the HD content, becomes an Ultra feature.

In other words, if you've got a fast internet connection and the right kit, you could see a drop in the quality of the material Netflix streams to your TV.

There's also a potential risk that some movies and TV shows could be restricted in some way. While we doubt Netflix would block or segment its Original content, it may dabble in timed exclusives where Ultra customers get early access to new shows. This is pure speculation, but it's clear Netflix will need to add as much value to this fourth tier as possible.

Based on the European pricing, I expect the Ultra tier, if it's introduced here, to come in at $19.95 per month.

I've reached out to Netflix for a local comment on whether this will hit the local Netflix service. If that response arrives, we'll update this story. But, if things go ahead according to what we've seen, you can expect the value of the existing packages eroded in order to create the Ultra pricing tier.


Comments

    I'd rather see an approach where it's a flat fee then you can add extra users. eg: You sign up for SD, HD or UHD quality then pay an extra say $1 per user. I don't think the number of users should be limited to the quality you choose. After all you've got single people who want the highest quality movies and families who are happy with the lowest quality. Those options should be possible.

      This won't happen
      You already have cases of in different households sharing the service. This would just encourage a group mentality so rather than get 6 subscriptions they are getting 1 plus $5

        I did the alternative in that I bought the top tier then let my mother-in-law and brother-in-law have access. I'm paying for four screens so they'll either be wasted or used.

          Perfect example of what I am talking about.
          The intent of the 4 screens is so everybody in the family can watch something and not chained to the TV and fighting. Not sure on what the actual terms and conditions say if what you are doing is allowed.
          But if you could pay $1 for another screen and that was unlimited then you Mum gets it, and your uncle and your friend who just moved house and your nephew.
          From a Netflix perspective they want your BIL and MIL to pay for their own service so anything that makes it easier to avoid that isn't going to be implemented

        It'd need to be capped at some point, probably four screens (or whatever their current maximum is). And look at it this way, people already do it so it's not like netflix particularly cares about shared accounts. In fact they probably see that sort of "letting your cousin" use your account type sharing as positive advertising that leads to sales down the track.

        In fact it could lead to more subs. Look at scenarios where people break up or move out. If the main subscriber dropped the connections down the "spongers" would be forced to get their own subs.

      Are you talking about multiple simultaneous viewers, or multiple user accounts ?
      As it stands, if I wanted to share my account with my parents, I could pay a few dollars more and give them the login details, which seems to be a very popular option. If they are going to change this system it might not drive too many customers away.
      However, under my own roof, we have a single TV with five user accounts for each person to bookmark their own content on Netflix, if that was ever reduced we would be cutting off Netflix in the very next month -- no way that would work for us, and I don't like the idea of where that is going.

        I was referring to viewers not accounts. I assume each account has it's own cost.

    The screenshot you provided shows the only difference between Ultra and Premium is Premium has 2 users and Ultra has 4 - HDR/UHD have tick boxes in both Ultra and Premium?

      Are they updating the screen shot?

      I'm seeing 4 and UHD on both, HDR on ultra only.

      If that is true it is not worth the extra money for the limited HDR content. UHD is barely worth it for me atm. Once what I want to watch is done I'll downgrade back to standard.

    netflix pricing is already getting stupid and its caused me to unsub so i dont see the appeal of another higher tier.

    I am disappointed to learn that Netflix is raising the prices overseas for their plans, when the basic plans only get a VHS quality content, this article suggests that situation will be only worse with the 'Ultra' service, but since I don't yet have a 4K/UHD TV and one of the very limited number of compatible Android boxes that allow it, so I won't be upgrading for now...
    Also, where is the mention of Dolby Atmos surround, isn't that supposed to be part of the hidef deals ?

      It's about halfway between VHS and DVD but yeah, it seems low. However, I'd argue that Basic is only for people with low bandwidth. There's no point providing 4k (for example) as their basic product if you've still got people stuck on slow connections. It'd be like watching a slide show for them.

        Well I disagree with that, Basic is also for people like myself, a pensioner, who do not give a monkey's crap about whether the video is SD, HD, Ultra HD, HDR or any other paranoid standard which have all been developed solely to sell ever more outrageously priced TVs to morons. I've got Unlimited NBN50 and SD is absolutely fine for us.

          I shouldn't reply to this since it looks like you're trolling. But on the off chance you're not and you genuinely don't understand the difference between the formats here's a bit of an explanation.

          Of course there's a difference in quality between the different standards. Quoted from a nice article (that is a bit old by now):

          The most popular standard resolutions are 640×360 and 640×480 for video, and 720×480 and 720×576 for DVD. HD video usually has a resolution of 1280×720 (720p) or 1920×1080 (1080p, is also known as Full HD).

          Full HD is literally nine times as detailed as SD. And that's before you add in 4k which is 4 times more detailed than Full HD. So it's effectively 36 times more detailed than SD. It's basically the difference between watching a movie on a shitty 13" TV from 1980 and a 55" inch tv made today. Except since you're likely watching the movie on a modern TV that shitty 13" picture is being stretched and blurred to hell at 55".

          HDR adds better colour depth and often blacker blacks. So you get pictures that aren't washed out. Think of a night scene at the movies on the big screen. It might be dark but you can see details and what is happening. That same scene on a standard colour depth TV is often just a black blur. But with HDR it gets those movie cinema details back again.

          Now, all this depends a lot on the device you're watching content on and the setup of your viewing environment. If you're watching on an old SD tv or even a low quality HD TV (1280x720) there's not a lot of point in getting true (1920x1080) HD content and even less reason to get 4k content. It also depends on how far you're sitting from the TV and how big the screen is.

          This article explains the distances you should probably sit based on screen size (or vice versa). A couple examples: 30" TV sit 1.2m - 2.3m away. 55" TV sit 55" 2.0m - 3.9m away.

          http://www.build.com.au/what-my-tvs-ideal-viewing-distance

          If you want to go more into the science of it try this one;

          https://www.rtings.com/tv/reviews/by-size/size-to-distance-relationship

          And a final note, it also depends on how good your eyesight is. If you genuinely can't see a difference between SD and full HD content it might be worth visiting an optometrist and getting your eyes checked. It could be time to change glasses or there may be another vision problem.

            Mate I know what the various formats are capable of ! I spend my days advising seniors on a wide range of technology issues. And yes, I do have a vision problem which would affect my viewing, and yes I do wear optician prescribed glasses. I don't wish to appear to be trolling, but sometimes it just irks me how people keep raving on about the "next big thing" these entertainment technology companies keep shoving down our throats. Another case of this is the hysteria that accompanies a new phone release by Samsung. What sort of idiot would buy a phone that NEVER gets updated ? Don't start me off on the insane paranoia that is a necessary part of any new Apple device !

              In that case, all I can say is I hope you don't advise them in the same way you post opinions here. Because they don't appear to have any backing in fact or logic.

            I will not post any further response, I've said what I wanted to say, so I'll leave it at that.

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